The MRC is a Maine non-profit corporation with a mission of ensuring affordable, long-term and environmentally sound disposal of municipal solid waste (MSW) on behalf of its membership. MRC members include municipalities, refuse disposal districts, public waste disposal corporations and other public entities in central and eastern Maine, which are responsible for planning and providing for management of MSW generated by households, businesses and institutions within the areas they serve. The MRC pools the resources of its membership on a regional scale in order to provide professional management, technical and administrative services while providing a single point of contact for business arrangements with counter-parties.
Since 2013, the MRC has been working to sponsor the development of a new advanced recycling facility in Hampden, Maine. The facility, will accept MSW from 83 municipalities that are MRC members. The facility is built to divert up to 80 percent of incoming MSW to useful products through (i) recovery of recycled materials; and (ii) conversion of organic and fibrous components of MSW into clean fiber, fuel products and other high-value products and materials. The facility provides a leading-edge model for managing MSW consistent with the hierarchy of methods for managing waste through waste reduction, recycling and energy generation, while limiting the amount of residual materials that require disposal in a landfill.
The facility was constructed by a private company, Coastal Resources of Maine, LLC (Coastal Resources), on land that had been purchased by the MRC and leased to Coastal Resources. Coastal Resources closed in May 2020 and the MRC is actively negotiating with a potential buyer. Coastal Resources obtained financing for the facility through a combination of private equity and tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). Coastal Resources has sole responsibility for payment of debt service on the bonds. Neither the MRC nor any municipality is responsible for payment of debt service on the bonds.
To coordinate the arrangements for its members to deliver MSW to the facility, the MRC entered into a Master Waste Supply Agreement with Coastal Resources and entered into Joinder Agreements with each of the 83 MRC members (known as Joining Members). In its role as site owner and landlord, the MRC entered into a Site Lease with Coastal Resources regarding development, construction, testing, and operation of the facility and oversight over permitted uses of the site.
The MRC is confident that the new facility will achieve the MRC mission to provide affordable, long-term and environmental sound disposal of on behalf of its membership while minimizing the need for landfill disposal.
MRC SPONSORSHIP OF THE NEW FACILITY
In 2007, the MRC Board began a process for evaluating alternative arrangements for managing MSW after March 31, 2018, when the disposal contracts with PERC were scheduled to expire. The MRC Board foresaw that the next generation of arrangements would need to anticipate reduced revenues from electricity sales after February 2018, when PERC’s contracts to sell electricity at favorable above-market prices were scheduled to terminate.
At first, the MRC focused on alternatives for continuing to use the PERC facility after 2018. By 2012, however, it became clear that MRC and the private owners of PERC had very different views of the circumstances under which the PERC facility might remain economically viable after 2018. Unable to reach agreement on the terms of extensions to the waste disposal agreements, in 2013 MRC proceeded on a separate path to sponsor development of a facility that would utilize technology for MSW processing other than combustion and that would generate products other than electricity. Through a competitive process, the MRC selected Fiberight to develop a new MSW processing facility that would utilize its proprietary and innovative technology. The MRC purchased a site in Hampden where the facility could be constructed. The MRC worked with Fiberight to acquire needed permits and licenses for construction and to put arrangements in place to support financing, construction and operation.